To the editor:
The proposed swap of eight acres of Westbank First Nations land for 698 acres of Crown land is totally out to lunch.
The WFN are not really “giving up” the eight acres of land because the interchange development on Highway 97 offers them the most benefit.
1. The Band has the management contract to build the interchange.
2. They no longer have a set of inconvenient traffic lights by their headquarters.
3. The interchange gives smooth, attractive access to huge WFN planned developments—both commercial and residential (new shopping mall, West Harbour, etc.)
4. The interchange will increase the development potential of land around the corner that’s owned by both the band and individual band members.
5. “Giving up” this land gave WFN an enormous tool to take to the bargaining table with the province.
Boy are we being suckered.
I understand that Westside-Kelowna MLA Ben Stewart is an astute businessman. Sadly, in this case, I do not think that MLA Stewart is exercising his business acumen on behalf of the constituents who elected him to his position of trust as their MLA. Looking after the interests of the people who voted for him is his job. I humbly suggest that MLA Stewart looks around at all sources of media and assess the level of disapproval for the land swap.
The Regional District of the Central Okanagan does not agree with the swap. The District of West Kelowna does not agree with it. Local news media are voicing their disapproval. Forums have a majority of posters disagreeing with the swap.
Pray, MLA Stewart, listen to the voices that voted for you. We do not want this inequitable travisty to go ahead.
Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Blair Lekstrom says: “We can’t enter into an agreement that would jeopardize the watershed,” and “There will be a solution for that.”
What is his idea of jeopardizing the watershed? What is the “solution?”
What if WFN feel that their plans (now or in the future) don’t jeopardize the watershed?
Who is going to fight that battle—the province? Dont forget—WFN land does not come under the jurisdiction of the province. They would be totally helpless because WFN is self-governing and only “answer” to the Federal government.
The WFN were compensated for the bridge land by receiving land on Devon Road. If I remember correctly, under the province, that land was an orchard in the ALR. Immediately when the WFN took it into their ownership the ALR designation was voided because it was no longer under provincial jurisdiction. WFN can build whatever they wish on the land. WFN is self governing and does not answer to the province. So why would the province be able to have any sway over WFN’s future plans for any part of that 698 acres?
Water is life in the Okanagan. We must not allow the province to give away any Crown land that is a part of the water reservoir for the West Kelowna municipality.